Owner Robert Sarver has announced the sale of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury. The move comes just eight days after he was banned for a year and fined $10 million by the NBA.
Sarver is said to have made racist and sexist comments and treated basketball team staff unprofessionally for years. This punishment was felt by many players in the league to be too lenient. NBA superstar LeBron James also complained publicly.
Sell ”the best solution”
The sale is “the best solution”, although he originally hoped to be able to retain control of the franchises. “But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that this is no longer possible – that whatever good I have done or may do is outweighed by things I have said in the past,” Sarver wrote in a statement. “For these reasons, I am beginning to look for buyers for the Suns and Mercury.”
Sarver bought the NBA (Suns) and women’s professional league WNBA (Mercury) teams in July 2004 for around $400 million. Forbes magazine recently valued the Suns at $1.8 billion.
NBA boss Adam Silver described Sarver’s punishment as harsh but appropriate and pointed out that he knew more about the results of the investigation than the general public. He also emphasized that there are high constitutional hurdles in the United States for taking someone’s property – and Sarver is not an employee or director.
The deputy chairman of the Phoenix Suns, Jahm Najafi, had asked Sarver to resign last week. Now he reacted with the sale announcement.